This past week in Prof. Kirkpatrick’s POS 470 class our objective while reading was to explain three major differences between “catholic” and “protestant” readings of the Constitution. Then we were to decide whether we would sign our name to the Constitution and defend our position. This objective seemed simple enough to me at first. But then I kind of hit a wall while reading, how is it religion is linked to politics? How does one’s faith direct how they act within the political arena?
Having been raised catholic I was already feeling a little biased as to how I thought the constitution would be better read. I had previously heard about the differences between Catholic’s and Protestant’s from some Irish friends of mine. In the past one of my best friends had housed some Irish students as they made their way across the country. One day after mass I had a conversation with these Irish students about what life was like in Ireland. While we did touch upon a number of subjects the biggest focus in the conversation I remember was the Catholic v. Protestant thing in Ireland, since this conversation did happen after mass. They first told me what the differences between the two religions were. Protestants believe that the Bible alone is the source of God’s revelation to mankind and teaches us all that is necessary for our salvation from sin. Protestants view the Bible as the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. This belief is referred to as Sola Scriptura. Catholics , as I was told, reject this idea. This is due to the fact that Catholics believe that both the bible and sacred Roman Catholic tradition are equal in authority. This idea undermines the authority, sufficiency, and completeness of the bible. Minus the various expletives they regularly used in normal conversation, they wrapped up the conversation by saying the main difference between the two is how they view scripture.
I kept this information in mind while I read Constitutional Faith. My eyes were opened after I completed the reading and after class had finished. I didn’t know there was a Catholic or Protestant way of reading the constitution. I enjoyed the freedom the Catholic view had , but I respected the reverence that the Protestant view had towards the constitution itself. Through reading I discovered that you could either keep these views pure or you could mix them together. Ultimately I identified myself as a person who would read the constitution with a Catholic-Protestant view.